A memorandum of understanding was signed between Teagasc and the Eritrean National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in 2012 under which Teagasc agreed to work with NARI in supporting development of the Eritrean dairy and potato industries.
Teagasc is providing support through a community dairy model that can be replicated across Eritrea. It introduced a dairy model based on sustainable ‘home grown’ forage using cow breeds which are suitable to this system and adaptable to the climatic conditions of the area. The project has two interlinked components: (i) a pilot model dairy farm where dairy farming best practice will be demonstrated at NARI and (ii) support to selected dairy farmers close to the NARI Halhale research station with the aim of transferring the technology from the research station to the wider community and providing a dairy research focus for the centre.
This project is leveraging the expertise of Teagasc using the best of Irish expertise in dairy herd production and management together with Ireland’s experience in research, extension and farmer training as well as the capacity development of staff in research, extension and professionals at all levels in the dairy value chain to help Eritrean farmers establish modern dairy farms. In order to build ownership and sustainability of the project, the Vita and Teagasc team works through a process of stakeholder consultations to develop a detailed implementation work plan. This project will provide local food security through access to a reliable source of milk and by improving household income of beneficiary farmers and the wider dairy community.
This project will provide a blueprint that can be replicated in other regions of the country and is unique in that it involves Irish agricultural expertise with local agricultural research and extension services working with dairy farmers and dairy communities. This is an opportunity to take advantage of Ireland’s technical expertise in the field of dairy production and herd management to promote local household food security and income generation.
In Eritrea, potato is an important, high nutritional value and popular food crop for consumers and a cash crop to growers. Potato grows well in all the high altitude areas, mid lands and low lands in the cool months of the year under various soil types, and is grown by subsistence and commercial farmers. The potato crop is one of the priority crops that have been targeted for development in the Medium Term Plan and Strategy of the National Agricultural Research Institute of Eritrea. The current national average yield is low, around 12.5 tons/ha. A significant factor contributing to these low yields is the heavy infestation of seed potatoes with virus. The nutritional and economic value, in addition to the favourable climate of the country, justifies efforts to address constraints of under-utilized productive capacity of the crop. Some of the constraints that were identified in the highlands and midlands included: weak seed variety, prevalence of viral diseases, high cost of inputs, limited access to extension services, unreliable weather, and low produce price, lack of storage facilities and seed provision systems.
In addressing the intensification drivers, the consortium team in Eritrea, including members from Ireland (Teagasc, Vita), promotes food security at national and regional levels through access to a reliable source of potato tubers (seed), which, in turn, improves household incomes of beneficiary farmers. The focus of the project is on developing a scale model of a seed potato system, seed multiplication, tissue culture development and up skilling of research and extension staff. The seed for the project was supplied by IPM. In the absence of any seed provision system, the normal practice is for farmers to either save the smallest sized tubers for seed in the next season or to simply buy small tubers left over from the vegetable market.